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New Year's Eve with J.S. Bach and G.F. Handel: A Historically-Informed Performance to Greet the New Year

The Choral Arts Philadelphia tradition of giving a New Year’s Eve concert was born in December 2014, thanks to the resounding success of that year’s experiment with Bach’s rarely heard complete Christmas Oratorio.

This year, Choral Arts will present two masterpieces of the Baroque era.

J.S. Bach’s Magnificat
We will perform one of Bach's most popular vocal works with the Christmas hymn "interpolations" (laudes) that composer originally included for Magnificat's first Christmas performance in Leipzig in 1723. 

During Bach's time In Leipzig, Magnificat became a regular part of Sunday services, sung in German on ordinary Sundays but more elaborately, and in Latin, on the high holidays (such as Christmas, Easter and Pentecost). 

Handel’s Coronation Anthems 
One of the last acts of King George I before his death in 1727 was to sign "An Act for the naturalizing of George Frederic Handel and others." Handel's first commission as a naturalized British citizen was to write the music for the coronation later that year. The four anthems Handel composed for the coronation of King George II and Queen Caroline on 11 October 1727 have never lacked popular favour. They were repeatedly performed at concerts and festivals during his life and since, and he incorporated substantial parts of them, with little change except to the words, in several oratorios, notably Esther and Deborah.

The forces that he used were substantial for the time period: an augmented Chapel Royal Choir of 47 voices and an orchestra that may have numbered as many as 160 instruments. The chorus is divided from time to time into 6 or 7 parts (the tenors remain united) and a large body of strings includes three (not the usual two) violin parts.

Program Details

Magnificat, BWV 243.1

Coronation Anthems:
1. Zadok the Priest
2. The King shall rejoice
3. Let thy hand be strengthened
4. My heart is inditing